I often run into the coexist bumper sticker going to work each day. While it is true that we live in a pluralistic society and we all need to get along, I think one of the main issues being pushed is that of tolerance. What is pluralism and what is the message of many that promote the tolerance issue?
Religious pluralism recognizes that this world if filled with thousands of different religious beliefs from Anthroposophy to Zoroastrianism. Thought there are thousands of religious beliefs, with some of the major players including: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and the Shinto religion.
Being that many different religious beliefs exist, we should be tolerant of all differences that exist. However, the word tolerance assumes that you already disagree with someone else on a particular issue. It is impossible to tolerate an other's view if you first don't have a disagreement with them. This brings me to the point I believe many individuals hold who promote the coexist slogan. What I think many really want, from the coexist camp, is not just tolerance, but in fact acceptance of all religious beliefs.
All religious beliefs, however, are peculiar in what they believe. You can't truly be a Buddhist and Hindu at the same time, for both religious systems make different statements as to how things are. Likewise, Christianity makes a completely different set of claims that contradicts all other religious groups. The real issue as I see it revolves around the question of truth.
Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)" This statement by Jesus seems to cause a lot of problems to those in the coexist camp as being a statement of intolerance. For sure, the statement is an exclusive statement, but what the coexist camp fails to address is the truthfulness or falsity of the statement. Jesus statement can't be both true and false at the same time. Either Jesus is the way or he is not.
Dealing with those who hold to a non-Christian worldview can be tricky, but Christians must dialogue with others that espouse different views in a loving and respectful manner. The difficult position that the Christian is in today, deals with the fact that we need to tolerate all views, but Christianity seems to be fair game. As Christians we need to argue for truth first. Truth is what we're after, not acceptance of a false belief.
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